IND W v SA W: Shafali Verma optimistic about team’s future

After guiding her team to a massive win over South Africa in the final T20I, India Women’s Shafali Verma said she is optimistic about the future of Indian Women’s cricket as she praised the team’s youngsters.

Rajeshwari Gayakwad’s three-wicket haul and Shafali’s 60-run knock helped India defeat South Africa by nine wickets in the third and final T20I on Tuesday here at the Ekana Cricket Ground. South Africa had already sealed the series after winning the first two T20Is, but the hosts gained a consolation win in the final game of the series.

“The wicket was very good and it was good for the batters. The bowl was coming good to bat and it was good to play on this wicket,” the 17-year-old said in the post-match press conference.

When asked if she feels the future of India Women’s cricket is bright, given the good performance from the youngsters, Shafali said: “Yes, absolutely. The youngsters that we have like Simran, Ayushi, all did very well and they must have also gained from experience from it.”

Chasing 113, India got off to a sensational start as opening batter Shafali scored 18 runs in the very first over bowled by Shabnim Ismail. The right-hander along with Smriti Mandhana continued the carnage in the first six overs and as a result, the hosts’ score read 71/0 after the end of six overs.

Shafali brought up her fifty off just 26 balls and India was looking in a hurry to finish off the third T20I. With just 17 runs away from victory, Shafali (60) ended up being dismissed in the ninth over of the innings. However, in the end, Mandhana (48*) and Harleen Deol (4*) took the hosts’ over the line by nine wickets with 54 balls to spare.

Reflecting on her partnership with Mandhana, Shafali said: “Whenever we both go out to bat, our plan is to hit the loose balls and get boundaries. We also try to stay in the middle for as long as possible and help the team get a good score.”

While Shafali has become an important part of the team in the T20I format, she is yet to make her ODI debut. Shafali said missing out from being named in the ODI series against South Africa had only motivated her to do more work.

“When I was not named in the ODI squad, I thought I must be lacking somewhere. I will work more on my fitness. So, I will motivate myself from not being named in the ODI squad. So, I will try to improve to break into the ODI squad,” she said.

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